As new car shoppers, we have many questions: Do hybrids or diesel trucks get better mileage? When is the best time to buy? When is the next model redesign? Believe it or not, these are the easy questions. The hard questions come when we meet a new car in the flesh, face to face, for the very first time.
Once we’re with a car, many questions are asked of us. Would you like the butt warmer package? Do you prefer titanium metallic or titanium quartz metallic? Would you like the XM subscription or do you use Pandora? Under pressure from these new questions, we start to feel overwhelmed – like we’re on a first date! – and we start to retreat: Do I really need a new car? What am I doing here?
Take a deep breath and tune out the noise. You’ve done your research, you’re ready to test drive, and you’re going to make the right purchase decision for yourself and for your family. Following these five steps will help.
1. Silence is golden
As you begin your test drive, you should turn the stereo off and you should not be afraid to tell your occupants that you would appreciate some quiet time. A quiet ride will allow you to evaluate how well the car handles road noise and will help you focus on the car rather than on small talk.
2. Handle it
Get a feel for the car’s handling. At a very low speed, turn the wheel from 11 to 1 and back a couple times. At slightly higher speeds, try changing lanes quickly. If you can find a spot to do so, perform a U-turn. Is the wheel easily manageable? Does the car respond to turns of the wheel as quickly as you expect it to? Is the car’s turning radius adequate?
3. Step on it
Once you’ve gotten a feel for the car’s handling, don’t be shy about testing its acceleration and braking. Test the car’s acceleration up a moderate hill, and test its braking on a flat road. Does it accelerate as quickly as you’d like? Does it decelerate as quickly as you’d like?
4. Park it
Now that you have a feel for how the car drives, you need to test how it parks. Try parallel parking it in a tight spot. Is this a car that you can easily manage in tight space?
5. Make sure your life fits the car, and the car fits your life
Finally, if you’re still serious about the car, you need to see how easily your golf clubs, car seats, children and pets load in and out of the car. Just as importantly, you need to test how the car fits your driveway, and along your commute. Does your surfboard fit in the car? Does the car fit in your garage? Does the car manage the hairpin turn on your way to daycare? If the car fails any of these tests, it’s not going to work for you – regardless of how many MPGs it gets!
Following these five steps will help you tune out the experts and focus on which car is right for you. If you have any questions, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy test driving! 🙂